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A Top 8 of Egypt's Best Horror Films

posted on: Jun 29, 2022

A Top 8 of Egypt's Best Horror Films

By: Jordan AbuAljazer / Arab America Contributing Writer

Arab cinema has long been a cultural media that has gone unrecognized by the outside world. This has not done Arab horror any favors, since horror is already a genre that struggles for the approval of Hollywood producers, who present their movies worldwide. 

Despite all that, Egypt has maintained throughout the history of film a passionate, if not scattered, romance with the horror genre. Not only are these films lovingly crafted by artists who had to work tirelessly to fund and advertise such an unrecognized genre, but they are also soaked in the culture, superstitions, and spooky corners of Egyptian culture. Some of them are also infamously hard to find. Not much work has been done to preserve these titles despite them existing in the hearts and minds of so many who were impacted by them. Addressing the need to keep a record of some of the best works of Egyptian horror, here are the top 8 Egyptian horror films (with particular attention to the old classics). 

8. Warda 

Starting the list is the 2014 found-footage horror Warda, directed by Hady El Bagory. This slow-burn horror centers around an Egyptian video blogger, who during a stay in his hometown, finds his girlfriend becoming increasingly disturbed. Following the classic tropes of the found footage genre with a slow and methodical pace, Warda is a great film to enter the world of contemporary Egyptian horror. 

7. Star of David 

Released in 2015 and only a year after Warda is the quick-paced dreamscapes of the film Star of David, directed by Ahmed Seddiek. When her parents die in a tragic accident, the main character leaves the country. When she finally returns, the star of David begins to appear around her. Soon, Sarah is thrown into a world of dreams from which she must escape. Like Warda, this movie is a great sample of Egyptian horror as it exists today. 

6. Love and Revenge…With a Meat Cleaver 

The first genuine classic of this list, Love and Revenge…With a Meat Cleaver is a 1992 film as gleefully absurd as its title. One of a few horror films directed by Mohammed Shebl, this film is a comedy/horror mashup about a deceased wife who, after getting killed by a husband hoping to start a new life with his mistress, comes back to life and sets out to take revenge. This movie is filled with the classic comedic tropes of Egyptian films, with a few good scares on top of it.

5. El Dassas 

A much more contemporary take on the horror-comedy genre, El Dassas is a 2014 film directed by Hani Hamdi. When a group of four paranormal investigators are hired to prove the house of a rich family is not haunted, a long and absurd series of mishaps and scares unfolds. This movie is another modern one, and it is a great comedy entry point for those who may not enjoy the sheer absurdity of Love and Revenge…With a Meat Cleaver. 

4. Real Dreams 

Directed by Mohammed Gomaa and written by Mohammed Diab, the director of the recent Moon Knight series, Real Dreams is a 2007 film centering on the struggle of Mariam. Mariam begins to live through her worst nightmares as she realizes the murders she witnesses within her dreams happen in reality. This film is a great crime drama with notes of mystery and the supernatural thrown in as well.

3. Fangs 

More than anything, Fangs is an incredibly charming and campy horror film. Directed by Mohammed Shelbl in the year 1981, Fangs is actually an Egyptian adaptation of the classic The Rocky Horror Picture Show, musical numbers and all. This film is particularly fun for its practical effects and showmanship. They all show their age, of course, but never in a manner that is anything less than effortlessly endearing. 

2. The Ambassador of Hell 

This 1945 classic is genuine edge-of-your-seat horror directed by Youssef Wahby. The movie focuses on the life of a poor Egyptian family that is visited by the devil. The devil takes the form of an extremely wealthy man, who offers the poor family fortune beyond their wildest imaginations. However, the wealth breaks the family apart with new issues of pride and excess, driving them to their lowest points until they are again visited by the devil. It is a classic Faustian tale, and it is told with all the iconic artistry of 1940s Egyptian film. 

1. The Humans and The Jinns 

The scariest, most famous, and best directed of this list, The Humans and the Jinns is a horror masterpiece that exists in the repressed memories of many Arabs. Directed by Mouhamed Rady and released in 1985, this film centers on the romances between a graduate student and her fiancé, who is accused by her friend of being a Jinn. Of course, claiming your friend’s fiancé is an otherworldly demon causes some conflict, and the horror and tragedies begin to unfold from there. The power of this film is in large part due to the acting talent of Abdel Emam, and it is a must-see for anyone looking to get into Egyptian horror. 

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